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Topical Sources of Fluoride
Following are the most common forms of topical fluoride:

Toothpaste is the most recognizable source of topical fluoride. The addition of fluoride to toothpaste began in the 1950s, with a recent Cochrane Collaboration review concluding that regular use of fluoridated toothpaste is associated with a “clear reduction in caries increment.” It also found that the effect may be greater for persons with more severe decay.
On average, brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is associated with a 24% reduction in decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces. Further, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) concluded that the quality of evidence for the role of fluoridated toothpaste in reduction of caries is grade 1, with strength of recommendation of A for use in all persons.

Fluoride Mouthrinses
Mouthrinses containing fluoride are recommended in a “swish and spit” manner. Various types are available over the counter and frequency of use ranges from daily to weekly. In addition, fluoride mouthrinse programs are sometimes utilized in schools. According to the Cochrane Collaboration, regular fluoride mouthrinse use reduces tooth decay in children, regardless of other fluoride sources, with an average 26% reduction in decayed, missing, and filled tooth surfaces. The CDC also concluded that quality of evidence for fluoride mouthrinses is Grade 1 and gave it an A in strength
of recommendation, with targeted effort at populations at high risk for dental caries.

View CDC Grading and Coding Systems
View Quality of Evidence Table
The topical effect of fluoride is its most potent effect in caries prevention.
Regular use of fluoridated toothpaste is an inexpensive and effective method of preventing caries.
The CDC strongly recommends the use of toothpaste and fluoride mouthrinses, gels, and varnishes in children.
Fluoride gels and varnishes are applied by a dental or medical professional in the office.
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